Sunday, March 3, 2013

Book Review (sort of): "Song of the Fairy Queen" by Valerie Douglas

This book proves that it really is all about the story.  The writer can do absolutely everything wrong, but if the story is compelling enough, the reader may forgive and stick around for the ride.

If  I'm reading a book with a story that I don't love, but it's well written, most often I read the whole book just for the writing (and in the hope that the story will get better).  Typically, if I don't like the writing, I give up on the book -- often after only a few pages.  This book was a total exception. This book was a reminder for me that a good story trumps everything else.

The story is exciting. The characters are heroic and yet sympathetic. I cared about them, and wanted them to succeed. The villain is totally evil, with no redeeming qualities. The story world is truly remarkable. The beauty of the Fairy glens stand in stark contrast to the wasteland that civil war has made of the rest of the country. The alliance between the Fairy Queen and the deposed human king who is trying to regain his throne is not only a perfect political alliance, but an enduring (if unlikely) friendship. It has everything you would want in a swashbuckling fantasy: a life-and-death struggle for the very survival of entire populations; suspense; violence; romance; sex.

The writing however, breaks all the rules: adverbs galore; the same adjectives repeated over and over (yes, we know Kyri has beautiful eyes and Morgan's looks are unique); there's a lot of telling and showing (to the point that it's repetitive, and annoying). There are a couple of places where the continuity seems "off" to me. I looked at some reviews on Barnes & Noble to make sure I wasn't just being cantankerous that day. Several reviewers' comments were along these same lines. [A few reviewers complained about poor formatting for the Nook. The formatting for the Kindle appeared fine to me.]

I'd love for this story to end up in the hands of a really good editor, who would help take out the repetitive parts and let the story soar with its full power and beauty.

All that being said, I enjoyed the book very much ...which may go to show: screw the "rules," just tell me a good story!

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